Emu Point dog fight ends in beach ban

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Camera IconCredit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Dogs will be banned from a controversial stretch of Emu Point after a heated debate between residents and canine owners came to a head at the City of Albany council meeting on Tuesday.

The 80m-long Emu Point Western Swimming Beach, opposite Cunningham Street, was designated an off-leash dog exercise area in 2018.

Tensions between dog owners and beachgoers led to signs being installed at the beach late last year, urging owners to pick up after their pets and control dogs on the sand.

At February’s council meeting, councillors received a petition with 301 signatures, calling on them to ban dogs from the area.

An officer’s report compiled in response to the petition recommended that the council revoke the City’s policy to allow dogs on the beach.

Community consultation cited in the report revealed 88 per cent of respondents opposed dog access to the area.

Cr Ray Hammond said a “comedy of errors” had prevented community group Friends of the Emu Point from formally lodging its opposition to dog access in 2018, but the group’s objection had “never been in doubt”.

“The community has spoken unequivocally and loudly, and must not be ignored,” he said.

“As a councillor, our primary role is to represent our ward and the people that live in it.

“This is absolutely going nowhere. The solution is simple - immediate prohibition is logical.”

Cr Rebecca Stephens was the only councillor to vote against the motion, arguing there had not been adequate public consultation ahead of the vote because of the COVID-19 crisis.

“I think the issue has certainly been blown out of proportion from the beginning,” she said.

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